As he stood on the pool deck watching his team practice, Ohio Wesleyan men’s and women’s swimming coach Dick Hawes was all smiles.
This is the first week in the Meek Aquatics and Recreation Center for the Bishop swimming and diving teams. Hawes says the new environment has made a monumental difference.
“It’s like being in another world,” he says. “It’s unreal.”
Hawes said the space is much healthier for the swimmers and divers and will allow for faster training and competition than the old pool in Pfeiffer Natatorium. The pool in the Meek Center has a cleaner filtration system that does not rely on chlorine. This, he says, gives the swimmers the ability to breathe better.
“They’d finish their drills and be coughing [in Pfeiffer],” Hawes says.
The new pool also has a different water circulation system. Hawes says this creates a faster atmosphere because the water movement is not pushing away the swimmers.
Andrew Wilson ’13 says the team is thrilled about the new facility.
“The water is super smooth,” he says. “It’s just like a boost in morale for the swim team. We’re going to do great because of the new facility.”
Hawes says the new facility will help with recruitment of new swimmers and divers.
“This year we had the largest freshman class I have seen in 20 years,” he says. “It’s a very good class.”
Assistant coach David Gatz ’10 says after years of swimming in Pfeiffer, Meek is “a gem.”
Hawes says he likes the big windows facing Branch Rickey Way. The pool in Pfeiffer had glass block windows that he could not see through. He says Meek feels a lot closer to many of the other OWU athletic facilities.
“It’s just more aesthetically pleasing,” he says. “I like being able to see what’s going on outside.”
The swimmers and divers are not the only ones to benefit. The pool will be open to the rest of the Ohio Wesleyan and Delaware communities. The Delaware Ohio Racing Club (DORC) and the team’s Bishop Bubbles swimming lessons program also will move over to the Meek Center.
“We’re out of ‘the Puddle’ now,” Hawes says with a laugh. “We’re in a pond now and we’re all swans.”
A community open house for the new Meek Center will be held from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. October 30.